Healing Our Addictions with Patience and Self-Love

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It’s a cold winter day. As I plunge my hand down into the wax paper bag, I fully expect to find another bite or two. But, alas, there are only crumbs.
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A distinct wave of sadness shoots through my heart. The chocolate scone is gone. And I don’t even remember eating it.
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It is in this moment that I wake up. I quickly shake my head from side to side, as if rousing myself from a long night of troubled dreams.
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What have I just done? What about the vow I’ve made to myself, again and again?
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For years I have known that the best thing for my body’s healing process is to eat fresh, whole, organic foods (lots of leafy greens and fruits) and to avoid ingredients that overstimulate my endocrine and nervous systems, such as sugar and wheat flour.
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And yet, today, here I am again. Eating some stupid, cheap scone I picked up on impulse at the local bakery. Full of who-knows-what ingredients.
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Here I am again. Ignoring my own wisdom. Falling back into the food addiction that has plagued me since childhood.
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Today I have lost control.
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I pull my car over into a parking lot. (Yes, I have been mindlessly scarfing that darned scone while driving!) I take a deep breath.
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Now is definitely the time for some self-love.

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Addiction is a Dirty Band-Aid 

Whether you struggle with a food addiction like I do or you deal with drug or alcohol addiction, every addiction is the same. An addiction is a loss of control over one’s behavior.
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Our addictive behaviors don’t just randomly happen for no reason. They are a symptom of a deeper issue.
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Why do we get addicted?
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That scone or that cocktail or that cigarette brings about a temporary cessation of suffering. They block sadness, tension, fear, pain, boredom, and anger. They numb any and all negative emotions.
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To put it simply, an addiction is a coping mechanism. It allows us to trudge onward in life, but without really looking toward the deeper issues.
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An addiction may be a short-lived, temporary cure for the pain—but, as we all know, it’s not a long-term solution.
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Running to our addiction is like slapping a Band-Aid on the wound—a Band-Aid that is dirty. Over time, the wound gets infected with the dirt and grime, and it worsens rather than heals.

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The Addiction is Not the Problem

Here’s the thing about addiction, dear friends: The addiction is not really the problem. The addiction is the glaring symptom.
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If we can look deeper than the symptom and see the situation from a holistic point of view, then we may begin to bring about a resolution to much of the suffering in our lives.
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So, what is the deeper issue? What lies at the root of addiction?
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Ultimately, all addiction—no matter the type or the severity—stems from a lack of connection. When we feel disconnected from other people, from our society, from our deepest hopes and dreams, and from a sense of love, then this disconnection brings about powerful emotions. These emotions hurt, and so we run to the seeming solace of the addiction.
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The addiction may seem, on the surface, as if it’s the problem, but actually it’s not. The addiction is, in reality, a helpful pointer, showing us that there’s some internal healing we need to do.
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The wonderful thing about addiction is that it is a powerful red STOP sign. It screams loudly: “Look! There’s a problem!”
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Addictions help us get in touch with our inner self. Just like a cough helps us connect with the needs of our lungs (do I need fresh air? do I need more exercise? do I need to take certain herbs?), an addiction helps us get in touch with the needs of our heart.
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Our heart is the seat of all emotion. Our heart is where feelings arise, are felt, and then released.
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When we feel a lack of connection and love, we do not feel safe. We do not feel safe enough to explore the many emotions that can arise as a human being in our daily lives.
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When we feel disconnected, negative emotions can feel overwhelming and scary. This is particularly true for those with abuse or trauma in their life history.
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The addictive behavior is a misguided attempt to self-soothe. We believe that if we eat that scone or we drink that beer, then those scary emotions will stop and we will somehow be safe, somehow feel connected again.
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But we all know that doesn’t work. What ends up happening is that, once the temporary high wears off, we are left feeling crappier than ever.
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The addiction is not the problem. The problem, rather, is the false perception that there is no love, no connection.

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Rising from Bottom

The cliché of the “rock bottom” is a cliché because it’s true. Most addicts eventually experience it.
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Rock bottom looks different for everyone. It will have varying levels of intensity and consequences.
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For some, the bottom is drastic: a suicide attempt, an illness, or a hospitalization. For some, it will simply be a very sad day when they realize that the time has come to change.
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This time of rock bottom is the moment when we begin to wake up. It’s the time when the healing can truly begin.
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For me, my rock bottom with food addiction came when my body had disintegrated nearly to the point of death.
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I was on my perhaps my tenth round of antibiotics that year and having a severe allergic reaction to the medication. Delusional with a high fever, unable to lift myself from bed and barely able to call for help, I realized I probably would not live much longer if I did not change just about everything in my life. Shortly after, I began to explore the world of alternative medicine and began to clean up my diet.
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We can think of this rock bottom—this intense realization that things need to shift—as the bottom of a spiral. This spiral begins at ground zero, and it moves upward through time.
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As the days, weeks, and months pass, and we dedicate ourselves to a new way of being, we will have various challenges that arise. We will learn and grow and allow our emotions to be felt, rather than running from them. We will heal old wounds from childhood that have been lurking for many years.
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Over time, with patience, we will be slowly shifting our perspective. We will become a new and better version. We will be moving from contracted perceptions of disconnection, lack, and fear, into expanded perspectives of connection, abundance, and love.
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Through the adoption of various healing practices such as meditation, support groups, therapy, prayer, Reiki, or exercise, we come into greater harmony within ourselves. We learn to love ourselves.

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Relapses on the Spiral of Evolution

In my struggle with addiction (not just with food, but with many other substances over the years), I have realized I am grateful to addiction. Addiction has played a very powerful role in my spiritual evolution.
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Addiction is a powerful point of change. It is a journey inward. It the journey of becoming aware and conscious.
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As we humans make this journey, and break the cycles of addiction, it’s so important to remember that change is not linear and it’s often not easy. Relapses happen.
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The spiral analogy can be helpful. If we imagine that we are travelling upwards in consciousness, to greater and greater levels of joy, power, and self-awareness, then we can avoid traps of self-blame when we do occasionally relapse.
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That day when I woke up to find scone crumbs on my lap was a challenging day indeed. I’d just had a disagreement with my roommate and was struggling with money issues. When I stopped at the bakery that day, intent on buying some tea, those scones whispered sweet love songs to me and I could not find the willpower to resist.
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In that relapse, I temporarily lost sight of my own truth: That I want to avoid sugar and wheat flour in order to heal my body.
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In that relapse, I was returning to the particular side of the spiral that was so known and comfortable: running to unhealthy food for comfort.
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And yet, even though I had returned to that old familiar side of the spiral, I actually experienced this relapse from a greater height! In other words, in this relapse, I was able to more quickly move past it and get back to my own power.
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It took just a few minutes and I forgave myself and moved into self-acceptance. I did not beat myself up.
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In that cold car on that cold winter day, I placed my hands on my heart, and whispered some words of love and reassurance to myself. In the past, in the beginning of my healing journey with food, I might have added a cookie or a brownie on top of the scone, as a way to escape the terrible emotions of self-judgment and guilt. But—this time I didn’t! 

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Love Yourself and Heal 

A relapse is nothing to be ashamed of. It happens.
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If you or someone you love has been healing a pattern of addiction, please know that patience is key.
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The spiral of evolution will bring you situations that will test your courage and self-awareness. Sometimes you will succumb. And that’s okay!
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If you wake up and suddenly find yourself acting in a way that you know is not your highest good, then congratulate yourself for waking up. Take stock of your long-term changes and pat yourself on the back for coming this far.
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Notice how you can more quickly bounce back from the relapse, with greater levels of patience and self-love. Notice how awesome you are!
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Ultimately, the journey of addiction recovery is a journey of healing. And it’s a journey all humans go through, as we refine to greater and greater levels what it means to love and care for ourselves.

 

 

This post originally appeared on tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.

Loving Everything

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In our journey of healing and awakening, we often believe, mistakenly, that the darkness is an enemy. We fall into the false belief of duality. We believe that light is good and darkness is bad.

 

When this happens, we run from the darkness. We flee.

 

However, as we gradually wake up on the spiritual path, we learn that all is One.

 

Every single thing is a part of that mysterious being we call “God” or “Source.”

 

This recognition has huge implications. If we recognize that everything is a piece of God, then this means that even the darkness, even the evil, even the suffering has a necessary role to play in the cosmos. Everything is here for a reason; nothing is by accident.

 

Everything is us.

 

 

 

Learning to Love Everything

 

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While our conceptual minds may grasp this life-giving wisdom, our emotional bodies may need some time to adjust. We may need some time for our life experiences to prove to us that, yes, this wisdom is true. We are all One. We are all God.

 

Indeed, it is incredibly challenging to integrate the understanding of ‘all is One’ into our daily lives. Not impossible—but very, very hard! Since birth, our parents and teachers have told us we were separate. We are working against deep programming.

 

So, yes, it takes time. The process of evolution is not a quick one. It must be undertaken with patience and self-compassion.

 

As we awaken, we begin to see the necessity of loving everything that arises—even the darkness.

 

We see how our “sins” are like children, crying out for the compassion of our own motherly love.

 

At this point, you might be asking yourself: Wait a minute!? If I love my darkness, won’t it get stronger???

 

My friend, that’s an understandable question!

 

Imagine a crying baby. In the old days, many parents believed that comforting a crying child would spoil them. In today’s world, most of us understand that if our child is crying, we do not punish the child by ignoring it—no! We go to the child, love it, caress it, nurture it.

 

In the same way, we can bring a loving awareness to whatever arises, even if it happens to appear bad or dark.

 

By comforting ourselves when we do something we dislike or by sending loving thoughts to another person who does something we consider “wrong,” we then transmute those seemingly “negative” energies into love. We convert fear into love.

 

It is only by loving everything that we can create more love.

 

By loving, we do not create more fear. By loving, we actually—finally!—bring an end to the vicious cycles of fear and violence.

 

This does not mean that we passively sit back and allow those in power to trample all over us. No. When action is called for, we courageously take it. If a law is unjust, we disobey it. If we do not appreciate another’s abuse, we walk away from them. Yet, we can do all of these liberating, rebellious acts of dissent with a heart full of love. Love and rebellion can co-exist.

 

We can learn to love everything, even the darkness within our own heart.

 

 

 

The Magic of Healing

 

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By bringing our dark side, our pain, our shortcomings, our suffering, our selfish tendencies up into the light of loving awareness, then that light begins to work the magic of healing. But if all that darkness stays hidden, then no healing can ever happen.

 

We can only heal that which we are conscious of. The first step in solving any problem must be to admit that there is, in fact, a problem.

 

Without bringing our problems out of the shadows and into the light, they will always stay hidden, replicating themselves over and over in an endless cycle.

 

How do we awaken? How do we heal? We learn to love even our shadows. We learn to love even our hate. We learn to love each and every reaction, no matter how grotesque or terrible they might seem. We learn to love it all. We learn to see everything as a vital part of the Universe.

 

This work is not easy, but the rewards are nothing short of miraculous. By bringing to light that which we fear, we heal the wound. As Jesus the Christ said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” (Gospel of Thomas)

 

 

Mantra Practice

 

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Okay, let’s take this conversation out of the world of theory and into the world of practice. To that end, I would like to offer to you three powerful mantras that you can use in your day-to-day life. These powerful mantras will help you begin—or deepen—your liberating journey into love.

 

  1. “Hello.”

 

When you notice someone doing something that irritates or angers you, simply say “hello” to that irritation or anger.

 

You don’t have to be cheerful about it. You can simply say hello in a neutral way. You can be an observer, a witness.

 

If you’d like, you can take this greeting a step further and say “Hello, how fascinating.” The human brain loves to analyze things—that’s its job! If you add “how fascinating” after saying hello, you are giving your brain delicious permission to observe something dark and “negative”—but without judgement.

 

Something that might help is to think of Mr. Spock from the old TV show Star Trek. He was a really profound, wise character, yet he was rarely judgmental, rarely upset.

 

 

  1. “Well done!”

 

When you observe a dark thought arising in your own mind, you are already awakened! You are already conscious!

 

The skill of mentally distancing yourself (extricating yourself from the swirl of the human drama) in order to be able to observe your own internal thought processes is success in itself! You have won!

 

Next time you notice a dark thought arising in your mind, take a few seconds to congratulate yourself. Pat yourself on the back and say “well done!”

 

By noticing what you don’t want without anger or self-recrimination, you are being a kind and loving parent to yourself. You are giving yourself unconditional love. Through unconditional love, you then feel truly empowered to make changes without shame or blame.

 

  1. “Thank you, darkness.”

 

If you’re an early riser, greet the dawn with a bowed head and the simple mantra “Thank you, darkness.” If you’re more of a night owl, before you go to bed you can bow your head to the night sky and say “Thank you, darkness.”

 

Without darkness, we would not know the glory of the dawn. Without the bitterness of winter, we would not appreciate the magic of the summer. Without the terrors of hate, we would not know the bliss of love.

 

Every day, take a few minutes to salute the darkness. It’s a crucial part of the cosmos, too! Without darkness/ignorance, our light/spiritual illumination could never happen!

 

♥♥♥

 

By using these three simple mantras, we can, over time, come to trust the fact that loving everything is the wisest thing we can possibly do. We can let go of our fears and soar into the sky.

 

 

How to Hold Space for Someone: 4 Tips for Facilitating an Awakening Environment

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As a life coach and energy healer, my job is to hold space. At core, my job is not really to give advice or to say wise words. In reality, the deepest, most healing aspect of what I do is to hold space for other people.

 

But what does it mean to hold space?

 

To hold space is to create an environment that is supportive for healing and spiritual awakening. (In reality, healing and spiritual awakening are one and the same.) To hold space is to act as a clear mirror for the other person: to nurture the process of the other person courageously looking within.

 

When one looks within, one discovers the intuition and wisdom that is already there.

 

Indeed, to hold space is to trust that the other person knows best—knows how to heal herself, knows how to change, knows how to grow, knows what to do. Holding space is a radical act of faith in the harmony of the Universe. Holding space is a radical act of generosity and of love.

 

When I first heard about the importance of holding space for another human being, I assumed it was easier than it really was. Yet, over the years, I’ve discovered that holding space can be quite challenging

 

Why is it challenging?

 

It is challenging because it requires a loosening of the ego. It requires cultivating an aura of non-judgment, non-reactivity. It requires compassion and unconditional love.

 

Holding this kind of sacred space, this kind of loving awareness is the ultimate gift. It is the ultimate healing force.

 

With this in mind, here are four tips for how to hold space for another person. You can use these strategies both in your professional healing practice or in your personal life with friends and family.

 

  1. Make peace with silence

 

There will be moments in your meeting when silence naturally arises. This is ok.

 

Don’t feel like you have to fill up every moment with speaking. There may be moments when the other person wants to stare out the window and gather their thoughts. Or maybe there are moments when you are both at a loss for words, overcome by tears and strong emotions.
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Don’t rush to fill the silence. Simply allow the silence to be another participant in the unfolding scene. Welcome the silence as a friend.

 

  1. Your whole world is that person

 

In our fast-paced, hectic society, when you give the gift of total attention, you are giving a priceless gift.

 

When you hold space for someone, you dedicate yourself fully.

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For the time being, your whole worldis that person. Your whole entire universe. Nothing else matters; nothing else exists.

 

When a person comes to you seeking solace or guidance (regardless of whether that person is a friend, family member, neighbor, client, or coworker), what they really want is to feel is that they matter. What the other person ultimately wants—whether they are consciously aware of it or not—is to feel your total attention on them. They want to feel that you are truly there with them.

 

When you hold sacred space, it’s not the time to think about yourself or your own issues. Be “all in” with that other person. Be utterly devoted, like a lover.

 

 

  1. Be like a child

 

Holding space is sacred and precious because it requires a (temporary) dropping of egoic boundaries.

 

When we hold space for someone, we find the courage to temporarily set aside our own separate, individual self—our own wants, desires, opinions, storyline, and beliefs. In order to hold space, we must be like a newborn baby: fresh into the world, without preconceived notions about what is right or wrong, possible or impossible. We must be simple, innocent, curious, open-hearted, sweet, and gentle.

 

For most of us in society, we have been trained to use our intellect as the dominant tool for processing our reality. The intellect (the ego), unfortunately, does not know how hold space. Rather, what holds space is the heart—and the quality of the heart is childlike innocence.

 

  1. Recognize that holding space for someone else is facilitating your own awakening process

 

When we commit ourselves to the practice of holding space for another human being, what we actually also do is facilitate our own awakening.

 

Holding space is like meditation. When we hold space, we become clear. We become pure.

 

When we intentionally step out of the constrictions of our ego, the more that the flavor of enlightenment permeates every cell of our body. The more we act as a clear, open mirror for someone, the less gunk we have in the way of our own awakening.

 

Holding space is a gift you give … and it is also a gift you receive.

♥♥

Dear friends, I’d love to hear your stories.

When was the last time you held space for someone? What did it feel like to hold space? What was scary about it? Exciting about it? Please comment below, so we can all learn together.

Sweaty Hands and Self-Love: A Story of Healing

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At every stage of life, there is always learning and growth to be had.

Regardless of your particular role in society, a major step in the awakening process is to openly share and talk about your struggles with others. Even if you are a healer or a teacher or a guide to others (as I am), it is imperative that you, from time to time, share about your current challenges.

Yes, it may be scary to talk about our struggles (holy hell, I know that the story I’m about to share is super scary for me to admit!), but this kind of vulnerable sharing is what brings our shame and negative feelings out of the darkness and into the light of consciousness. By sharing openly, we heal. We transform.

By my sharing with you today about a current challenge of mine, I hope you will be inspired to share with a loved one what you are actively engaged in transforming.

MY SWEATING “PROBLEM”

When the temperature rises above 75 degrees (roughly), my hands and feet begin to sweat.

This happens because my endocrine system is imbalanced.

I am working on healing it.

Some days are worse than others. On some days, it’s simply a light dampness; on other days, the sweating is so intense that I am literally unable to type on my laptop because I fear that such a steady flow of liquid will break the machine.

For all of my life, this issue has plagued me. Not only is it often physically uncomfortable (for example, it’s difficult to do yoga sometimes, because my hands and feet are sliding all around the mat), but it is socially uncomfortable as well.

If the weather is warm that day, after a class or a workshop, when one of my students approaches me and holds out their hand for a handshake, I sometimes inwardly grimace.

Or, if I’m doing a Reiki healing session with a client, when it is time for me to touch a part of their body that is unclothed (face, neck, arms or legs), I sometimes worry that the sweat rolling off my fingertips is a distraction or an irritation for them.

Or, if I’m dating someone new…there is always this awkward moment where they reach out to hold my hand, and I want to run in the opposite direction.

Over the years, I have equated my sweaty hands with being a total weirdo. With being a loser, or a freak.

I so often feel shame when my hands come into contact with another person. (Which is surely ironic—considering the fact that I work as a hands-on healer!)

Many times, when I’ve shaken hands with someone, and they’ve literally gotten their hand soaked (it’s quite incredible, really), I’ve seen the look of mild irritation or confusion on their face, as they then wipe their hand on their pants, unsure about what they’ve just encountered. I assume they’re thinking something like, “What the hell was that?” When I see that look on their face, my heart absolutely breaks. I feel like a failure as a human being. A freak. A weirdo.

 

QUESTIONS AND REALIZATIONS

For years and years—basically, my whole life—I have actively hated and despised this aspect of my physical body. And though I deeply adore warm weather, I sometimes find myself dreading the spring months because of the seemingly inevitable social awkwardness it can bring.

But…lately…I’ve been asking myself some deep questions.

Why am I so ashamed? Why do I assume others will have negative feelings about the wetness of my hands? Why do I worry and care about what others think? What does this worry reflect about my own capacity for acceptance and self-love? And since I judge myself in this way, in what ways do I still judge others for not being “perfect”?

In so many ways, I have dropped concern for social norms and done my own thing. I’m a rebel. I am an independent, free-spirit. I don’t follow fashion norms. I wear non-matching clothes without a second thought. I don’t shave my legs; I don’t conform to gender norms. And I’ve broken just about every sexuality and relationship norm there is. In my rather conservative, frozen-in-time tiny town, I hug trees, sing, and openly perform sacred rituals in public spaces where such things are seen by the majority as outlandish, if not outright insane.

In so many aspects of my life, I do not give a crap what others think about me.

So why, in this one aspect, do I still worry about judgment and criticism from others?

After much recent reflection, I realize that the basis of my worry has to do with the fact that I’ve been stressed about presenting myself in a certain way, since my work highly depends on the impressions others have of me in order to seek my services. Basically, I’ve wanted to show myself as “perfect,” so others will be inspired to learn from me.

However, this attempt to be seen as perfect has created an impossible situation, where I am, time and time again, judging myself as less than perfect. It has set up a no-win scenario, where I am feeling like I have to hide behind a mask, rather than present my true self to others, warts and all.

Ultimately, what I realized is: Lately, my sweaty hands are prompting me to be more honest with others. I want to take all the masks off.

My sweaty hands are also helping me to realize how much more I need to love myself, unconditionally.

Do I have the courage to love myself, every single bit of me, no matter what?

Do I have the courage to claim my experience, and say to the Universe: “I love myself through my hands. I love myself through my feet. I love myself, whether sweaty or dry. I love myself, no matter what.”

And, do I have the courage to decree that I am the creator of my own experience?

 

A NEW CHAPTER

I realize that I do not know when the full physical healing of my endocrine system will happen. I know that the core of the imbalance is from years of undiagnosed PTSD.

And even though I now consider myself healed from PTSD—meaning that I have successfully rewired my brain into healthier patterns so that I no longer feel victimized by my past and meaning that I no longer require that label to make progress on my awakening journey—the reality is that my endocrine system, my physical body, is still catching up.

For years I have faithfully practiced healthy eating, daily meditation, and Reiki self-healing. And the situation still persists.

I’ve been so angry with the Universe. Why haven’t I been healed yet, when I’ve been so diligent to follow the path of healing?

And this anger…this anger is now asking to be transmuted, transformed, into patience, peace, acceptance, and self-love. I need to be with myself, just as I am, unconditionally, regardless of whether the issue is ever cured in this lifetime.

I have to be okay with the possibility that my hands and feet might always sweat more than I’d like.

That’s a hard lesson to learn, but I am ready.

The time is now for a new chapter. Yesterday, I attended a social function. New friends everywhere, wanting to shake my hand, wanting to be close. And so yesterday I began to practice something new. I began to shake hands with people, and as I did so, I silently repeated the mantra: “I love myself through my hands, I love myself through my hands, I love myself through my hands…”

As I met people by looking deeply into their eyes and seeing the lovely Spirit that lies within, I realized that what counts is not the dryness or the wetness of my hands. What counts is my ability to meet them where they are at, and to see the God within.

In order to do this, I need to meet myself in just that same way. If I am blocked because I cannot love this part of me, what are the chances that I can love them in the deepest way?

I am ready for this change. I am ready to create a new reality, where I love myself fully and totally, no matter what.

 

WHAT’S YOUR STORY?

My dear friends, thanks so much for listening to my story.

It’s felt scary, but also remarkably good to share with you.

And now, I invite you to share with us, in return. Let’s exchange energy and create a complete circle of healing.

What is it that you have disliked or even despised about yourself that you can now use as an opportunity to love yourself? What is it you’ve judged about yourself that you can choose to transform into an active practice and remembrance of love?

Please share with us in the comment section below.

And please know that as you share your story, you are inspiring others to do the same.

Your choice to be intentionally vulnerable is a powerful healing act, for yourself and others.

 

Thank you.

 

Love is the New Religion

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We are born to love.
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As every mother knows, cradling her newborn child, love is the reason we are here.
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As any lover knows, gazing into the eyes of their beloved, love is the reason we are here.
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While it is true that we may hold vastly different beliefs, that we may pursue radically different paths and passions…at core, love is what connects us. Love joins our hearts.
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Those of us who prefer logic and scientific methods experience love in just the same way that mystics do. In fact, there is no dividing line between those who pride themselves on their intellect and those who pride themselves on their meditative states. Love is the common factor of us all. Love unites us.
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And when we look around our world today, at all of its changes, challenges, and growing pains, we see one common theme emerge. Love.
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Love is what we seek. It is the new religion of our age: the glue that binds us, the spark that motivates us, the path that propels us forward.

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If we look at the etymology of the word religion, we see it comes from the Latin root ligare, meaning “to bind.” Indeed, we are on a journey of coming together. We are stepping out of our old divisions, out of our old closets of fear and prejudice. We are, as a collective species, learning to drop the harmful dogmas of the past, the old fundamentalist religions of yesterday, and stepping into the new—love.
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Love bind us. In love, we see we are not separate.
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We are one human family. We are one beautiful planet.

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Of course, many of us have different definitions of “love.” This is good! Our varied experiences and ways of defining love is a benefit to the shifts and changes our global community is currently experiencing. Diversity is beautiful and healing. Through varied ways of understanding and conceptualizing love, we can widen our hearts, and perceive the stories of those whose daily lives and customs might differ from our own.
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For example, let’s travel to India. Let’s sit down in a marketplace and speak with a stranger. As we listen, we learn that the most love this person has ever felt was on the day his wife was cremated in a public ceremony, in an Antyesti. As we listen deeply, we might learn that this man, this man who cared for his wife so deeply, felt his consciousness expand when he saw his beloved’s body burst into a million billion flames. We learn how a deep sense of awe arose in his heart as her flesh turned to smoke before his eyes. We realize that the catastrophic pain and trauma he experienced through losing his wife was actually, paradoxically, the key to his spiritual breakthrough. He realized that death was not the end of life, but merely a transition. He learned that love does not end…love continues.
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Yes, if we talk to this man in India, he will no doubt define love in a different way than a man would in Australia or a woman would in Belgium. We all have different definitions of “love,” many different words to describe, based upon our unique cultures and upbringings. And that’s okay! Because, at core, love is not a word or a definition…love is, rather, an energy. A state of being. And we have all felt it. It is what we share.
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About seven years ago, I began to explore both polyamory and spirituality. For many years prior, I had been very staunchly anti-religious and quite bitter about what I perceived to be the shitty conditioning implanted into me by the fundamentalist Christian church in which I was raised—a church that condemned gays to hell and pronounced sex outside of marriage a terrible sin. Once I left my parents’ house and entered college, new ways of life began to open. I began to breathe fresh air. In my studies and social life, I began to connect with different kinds of people across different backgrounds—people whose basic assumptions about life were very, very different from mine. I also began sharing my poetry at coffee shops and in magazines. Through this art form, I began to experience my own creativity and intuition in a way that I’d never been able to do before.
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My husband and I began to explore polyamorous relationships around the time we both began to explore meditation. We began to realize that opening our hearts and intimately connecting with others beyond our union of two was deeply healing and profoundly joyful. And as we began exploring polyamory, we began to also explore altered states of consciousness—states where the rational brain was no longer explicitly in control. These states were achieved through various practices: breathing, yoga, Reiki, dance, tantric sex, and plant medicine ceremonies. It was around this time that I began to realize that even though I’d freed myself from the confines of conservative religion, there was still a desire within my heart to explore the parts of me that dwelt in something other than the mind, something other than logic or rational analyses.
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A few years later, I began working as a healer and spiritual teacher. As I dedicated my life to this thrilling work, I sensed that what would be most beneficial for me would be to open my heart—not only by exploring the wonderful ways I might connect, learn, and share with new poly partners, but also by exploring the ways that I might connect with the spirit of each and every single person I encountered in my daily life. The woman bagging my groceries began to take on as much importance as my lover in bed. The man handing me cash at the bank began to take on a dearness that had been previously reserved for my husband. I became thrilled by the love energy that was flowing from my eyes, my heart, and my hands, positively uplifting everyone on its path.
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As my journey progressed, I began to realize that, more than anything else, what humanity needs, right now, is love.

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Indeed, love is not just about sex and romantic partnering. Love is much, much more. Love is compassion, acts of kindness. Love is a twinkle in the eye; love is laughter in the heart. Love is doing for others.
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Most importantly, love is loving ourselves. Love is looking in the mirror each morning and saying to our own reflection, “You are beautiful! You are awesome! I love you!”
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We came to this life to love.

Love dissolves the feeling of separation that seems to come between us. Love lets us feel close again.
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Love lets us forget ourselves: forget our own pain, our own struggles—if only for a moment. Love heals. Love unites.
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Indeed, love is the new religion of our times. I believe this is why polyamory is rapidly gaining popularity and public recognition. As relationship radicals such as poly and LGBTQ folks free themselves from the limiting cultural norms and dogmatic religious constructs of an old paradigm that is on its last legs (Trump represents the last dying gasps of an old way of viewing the world), new kinds of families and new kinds of community are being created. No longer are we isolated into our separate monogamous dyads, fearfully protecting and shielding ourselves from a scary outside world. No. There is, more and more, a brave intuition that what makes the most sense now is to come out and come together. Now is not the time for closets, retreat, and fear—no. What we need to do, right now, is to bravely come together, opening our hearts and sharing our lives and stories.
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On this new path, we drop our judgements and see each person for the divine beautiful soul that they are. We see beyond the outward appearance, behind the names and roles and occupations, and see the glimmer of pure life force within. We see ourselves as brothers and sisters, in love.
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As we create this new planet, we create from a space of love, putting in place new modes, new forms, new structures, new expressions of what it can mean to be a human being.
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As we wake up, we create more love, from love.
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We transform. Everything.